Land located near the intersection of Bryan Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway known as the “Flavan Tract” by nearby residents was the topic of a public hearing and the first reading of Bill No. 7123 at the Sept. 12 O’Fallon City Council meeting.
The second reading and vote for final passage were originally scheduled for the Sept. 26 O’Fallon City Council meeting. However, the applicant requested that the item be postponed until the Oct. 10 council meeting. No reason for the postponement was given.
As previously reported by Mid Rivers Newsmagazine [‘Rezoning proposes residential use for ‘Flavan Tract’] the owner has applied to rezone the property from C-3/Highway Commercial to R-3/PUD Garden Apartments and Condos District Planned Unit Development. Additionally, approval of an area plan for the 21.736-acre tract of undeveloped land has been sought to include up to 69 single-family lots and luxury villas.
After the agenda item was opened at the Sept. 26 council meeting, a customary motion was made to do the second reading of the bill, by title only. The motion was defeated by a vote of 3 votes in favor [council members Cook, Mack, Herweck] and 6 against [council members Kling, Pheney, Kuehn, Bibb, Smith, Hinman]. Council member Jim Ottomeyer [Ward 4] was excused.
A motion then was made to table the second reading and vote until the Oct. 10 council meeting. The motion passed by a vote of 5-4.
Council member Debbie Cook [Ward 5] asked the council to reconsider the motion.
“No reason was given for the postponement, and there is no financial reason,” Cook said. “We should read the bill tonight and then vote, because of all the residents who have come to all the Thursday meetings for all these months.”
Mayor Bill Hennessy clarified that the council already had defeated the motion to read the bill.
Multiple residents in the audience were concerned about the decision. During the earlier public comment portion of the meeting, 13 residents took to the podium and spoke in opposition of Bill No. 7123. All had asked the council to vote “no” on the project. Another 20 audience members from the Magnolia and Turtle Creek developments attended specifically because of the bill, with no resident speaking in favor.Residents Bobby Ellis, Shirley and Noah Malone, Jan Bender, Gloria Overmark, Rebecca Dean, Shirley and Arthur May, Lindsay and Jake Janitch, Rose Van Dorn, Les Blaclock and John Calahan all said they opposed the rezoning from commercial to residential for several of the same reasons, including reduction of their property values, concerns about traffic problems on White Magnolia Drive, concerns about water runoff, and the undesirable loss of prime commercial property that could generate jobs and tax revenue. Several residents also expressed frustration with the continuing delay of a final vote.
Resident Rose Van Dorn said she has attended meetings about the bill for eight months and is still opposed to the rezoning. She handed in a petition with 200 signatures of residents strongly opposed to the rezoning to enter into the official record.
“Please don’t postpone again,” Van Dorn said. “Everybody [has] told me I’ve wasted my time. It’s a waste of time to go up against the City Council. It’s a waste of time to go against Planning & Zoning. I’ve told them no, we have worked our butts off to try to keep this from being developed in our backyard. So, prove me right. That it’s worth it. Citizens can come here, that you’ll hear us, and do the right thing.”
When Les Blalock addressed the council, he said, “We walked this dog in January, February, and March, and here we are again. The developer’s tactics have been clear—postpone, postpone, postpone.
“P&Z gave you 18 reasons to deny this,” Blalock said. “According to the 2018 budget, you spend $1 million per year for P&Z to get their advice. You also spend money for city staff to give you advice, and they all told you no. You should listen to them. And your own annexing agreement for that land that specified commercial zoning.”
Blalock further described the current rezoning effort as “A Trojan Horse for getting apartments in that commercial land down the road.” He closed by pointing out that 230 people are on record in opposition to the rezoning.
“Government exists for the people, of the people, and by the people,” Blalock said. “The people are saying no.”